“People are your greatest asset”.
It’s an age old saying that runs the risk of being a line used without real meaning or intent. Yet for any business – but especially a service business – we believe it still holds true. If you believe that people are a bottom-line cost and not an asset, then you are hiring the wrong people. For Alliance SI, people are still our greatest resource – despite advances in technology, new product innovation or the rise of automation. In fact, empowering our staff to be the best they can be remains one of our most important business metrics and a fundamental pillar of our success, and the success of our customers.
Back in 2008, the Harvard Business School wrote a compelling article about the four things a service business must get right – being the design of the offering; the funding mechanism; the employee management system; and the customer management system. Interestingly, Harvard continues to republish this article over 10 years later, as the management tools and techniques remain as valid today as they did back then.
They state that companies often live or die on the quality of their workforces, but because service businesses are typically people intensive, a relative advantage in employee management has all the more impact. In fact, the process of valuing, nurturing and managing your employees should be a reflection of the service attributes that a company aims to be known for. This has been the Alliance SI approach from day one. Our values of excellence, passion, service and integrity are inherently built around the premise of our people – to empower our people to learn, grow and innovate in a safe and trusting environment where they are motivated to have a real sense of purpose.
Asking questions, such as those cited in the Harvard article, are in fact integral to developing a genuine and sustainable company culture. “What makes our employees reasonably able to achieve excellence? And what makes our employees reasonably motivated to achieve excellence?” Consideration for these responses should translate into company specific programs and policies. Organisations that neglect to connect the dots between their employee management approach and their customers’ service expectations and preferences will find it hard to honour their otherwise empty service promises.
Some years ago, a survey by Kerry Forn created quite a buzz – the findings of his ‘global’ study reported that the majority of CEOs see more value in their technology than their workforce. We would argue that this shows a lack of understanding for the way technology actually works. Innovation in technology is rapidly developing daily and changing the way businesses are run. But we would argue that truly innovative ideas make it out of the brainstorm meeting because of humans who know how to put their ideas to work for them.
The reality is that technology is only helpful if it is implemented properly. A reality we come up against day after day. Companies can invest in technology or software that promises to save them time, energy and resources – but if not correctly implemented, the so-called solution can become the new problem. The implementation of any new technology or significant software installation or upgrade requires an effective onboarding process with people who not only understand the technology but can translate that understanding into the needs of the business involved. A critical role that Alliance SI plays is to make sure the technology is working the way it has promised. There are some problems only a human can solve. As technology can’t read minds yet, humans need humans to understand them and then use technology to help provide a solution. In short, it takes a person to understand the problem and articulate how technology can help fix it. And that’s where our team of people come in.
For Alliance SI, people are an important part of the return on investment. Good customer service is what establishes your reputation as a business and can never be fully replaced by technology or automated service offerings. And good customer service is born from a team of people with not only the knowledge and skills to do the job, but with a genuine drive to support the success of their customers. Developing this type of culture is easy to discuss in theory, but much harder to put into practice – perhaps because CEOs are too busy valuing their technology and not their real assets – their people.
As Bill Macaitis, a well-known Growth Adviser and former CMO of Slack says, “Marketing doesn’t define what a brand is. A brand is made up of every single interaction someone has with your company.” What makes you memorable and what keeps people coming back to you is in large part thanks to the people who establish your reputation – a sentiment we could not agree with more.
The strength of Alliance SI ‘s reputation in the industry is largely due to the strength of our team, and their commitment to the values that Alliance SI holds dear. So, while technology will continue to be the driving force behind business innovation – a reality at the heart of our business model – it is people who remain a vital part of that process. Harnessing the technologies of tomorrow requires people with innovative ways of thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Alliance SI is an example of a company that believes our organisation is only as good as the creativity, drive and ambition of the people who drive it – because really it is people who truly make a difference.